Sunday, May 04, 2008

Wouldn't hurt a fly

Juan Cole alerts us to an upcoming debate on the BBC that contends:

'...the Sunni-Shia conflict is damaging Islam's reputation as a religion of peace.'

Islam has a reputation as a religion of peace? That's news to me. Muslims conquered roughly the same empire as Alexander the Great and have been fighting amongst themselves ever since.

Of course that's not to say that they are any worse than other prominent Bible-based religion. They have nowhere near the Christian's earned reputation for pathological violence and military conquest. And although they've been much more successful than the Jews at military conquest, the Jews are hardly less violent as a people when given a fighting chance.

You pretty much have to study the Mesoamerican religions (Aztecs, Mayans, Toltecs, or the Andeans to make the Judeo-Christian-Muslim religions look peaceful. Even then, "peaceful" is hardly the word that describes them. "Somewhat less insane" would be more accurate.

Only a few of the Asian religions have any serious claim to being peaceful, but no matter what the texts may say, history is still littered with Buddhist tyrants.

But I don't mean to speak ill of all religions. I've never heard of an evil Jainist government, although their primary religious symbol (see above) has been subject to misappropriation.